Doom and gloom are all about us. Edward Gibbon started it all with his 3-volume The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-1788). The British Empire of Gibbons' time is no more. Is the clock ticking on our own version of empire? If this is (fair & balanced) skepticism, so be it.
Take Me Back To Constantinople: How Byzantium, Not Rome, Can Help Preserve Pax Americana
By Edward Luttwak
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Economic crisis, mounting national debt, excessive foreign commitments this is no way to run an empire. America needs serious strategic counseling. And fast. It has never been Rome, and to adopt its strategies no its ruthless expansion of empire, domination of foreign peoples, and bone-crushing brand of total war would only hasten America's decline. Better instead to look to the empire's eastern incarnation: Byzantium, which outlasted its Roman predecessor by eight centuries. It is the lessons of Byzantine grand strategy that America must rediscover today.
Fortunately, the Byzantines are far easier to learn from than the Romans, who left virtually no written legacy of their strategy and tactics, just textual fragments and one bookish compilation by Vegetius, who knew little about statecraft or war. The Byzantines, however, wrote it all down their techniques of persuasion, intelligence gathering, strategic thinking, tactical doctrines, and operational methods. All of this is laid out clearly in a series of surviving Byzantine military manuals and a major guidebook on statecraft.
I've spent the past two decades poring over these texts to compile a study of Byzantine grand strategy. The United States would do well to heed the following seven lessons if it wishes to remain a great power:
[Edward Luttwak is a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and author of The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire (2009). Luttwak received a B.A. from the London School of Economics and a Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University.]
Copyright © 2009 Foreign Policy (published by the Slate Group, A Division of WashingtonPost.Newsweek Interactive)
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Copyright © 2009 Sapper's (Fair & Balanced) Rants & Raves